[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1998, Book I)]
[May 14, 1998]
[Pages 759-760]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

[[Page 759]]

Memorandum on Privacy and Personal Information in Federal Records
May 14, 1998

Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies

Subject: Privacy and Personal Information in Federal Records

    Privacy is a cherished American value, closely linked to our 
concepts of personal freedom and well-being. At the same time, 
fundamental principles such as those underlying the First Amendment, 
perhaps the most important hallmark of American democracy, protect the 
free flow of information in our society.
    The Federal Government requires appropriate information about its 
citizens to carry out its diverse missions mandated by the Constitution 
and laws of the United States. Long mindful of the potential for misuse 
of Federal records on individuals, the United States has adopted a 
comprehensive approach to limiting the Government's collection, use, and 
disclosure of personal information. Protections afforded such 
information include the Privacy Act of 1974, the Computer Matching and 
Privacy Protection Act of 1988, the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, and 
the Principles for Providing and Using Personal Information (``Privacy 
Principles''), published by the Information Infrastructure Task Force on 
June 6, 1995, and available from the Department of Commerce.
    Increased computerization of Federal records permits this 
information to be used and analyzed in ways that could diminish 
individual privacy in the absence of additional safeguards. As 
development and implementation of new information technologies create 
new possibilities for the management of personal information, it is 
appropriate to reexamine the Federal Government's role in promoting the 
interests of a democratic society in personal privacy and the free flow 
of information. Accordingly, I hereby direct the heads of executive 
departments and agencies (``agencies'') as follows:
    It shall be the policy of the executive branch that agencies shall:
      (a) assure that their use of new information technologies sustain, 
        and do not erode, the protections provided in all statutes 
        relating to agency use, collection, and disclosure of personal 
      (b) assure that personal information contained in Privacy Act 
        systems of records be handled in full compliance with fair 
        information practices as set out in the Privacy Act of 1974;
      (c) evaluate legislative proposals involving collection, use, and 
        disclosure of personal information by the Federal Government for 
        consistency with the Privacy Act of 1974; and
      (d) evaluate legislative proposals involving the collection, use, 
        and disclosure of personal information by any entity, public or 
        private, for consistency with the Privacy Principles.
    To carry out this memorandum, agency heads shall:
      (a) within 30 days of the date of this memorandum, designate a 
        senior official within the agency to assume primary 
        responsibility for privacy policy;
      (b) within 1 year of the date of this memorandum, conduct a 
        thorough review of their Privacy Act systems of records in 
        accordance with instructions to be issued by the Office of 
        Management and Budget (``OMB''). Agencies should, in particular:
            (1) review systems of records notices for accuracy and 
            completeness, paying special attention to changes in 
            technology, function, and organization that may have made 
            the notices out of date, and review routine use disclosures 
            under 5 U.S.C. 552a(b)(3) to ensure they continue to be 
            necessary and compatible with the purpose for which the 
            information was collected;
            (2) identify any systems of records that may not have been 
            described in a published notice, paying special attention to 
            Internet and other electronic communications activities that 
            may involve the collection, use, or disclosure of personal 
      (c) where appropriate, promptly publish notice in the Federal 
        Register to add or amend any systems of records, in accordance 
        with the procedures in OMB Circular A-130, Appendix I;

[[Page 760]]

      (d) conduct a review of agency practices regarding collection or 
        disclosure of personal information in systems of records between 
        the agency and State, local, and tribal governments in 
        accordance with instructions to be issued by OMB; and
      (e) within 1 year of the date of this memorandum, report to the 
        OMB on the results of the foregoing reviews in accordance with 
        instructions to be issued by OMB.
    The Director of the OMB shall:
      (a) issue instructions to heads of agencies on conducting and 
        reporting on the systems of record reviews required by this 
      (b) after considering the agency reports required by this 
        memorandum, issue a summary of the results of the agency 
        reports; and
      (c) issue guidance on agency disclosure of personal information 
        via the routine use exception to the Privacy Act (5 U.S.C. 
        552a(b)(3)), including sharing of data by agencies with State, 
        local, and tribal governments.
    This memorandum is intended only to improve the internal management 
of the executive branch and does not create any right or benefit, 
substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or equity by a party 
against the United States, its agencies or instrumentalities, its 
officers or employees, or any other person.

                                                      William J. Clinton